I Climbed My First Mountain, and It Changed My Life Forever

By Gemma Wang

I have always been the type of person who loves challenges. I love to push my limit and see how far I can get, expand my comfort zone and generally, just continue becoming a better individual at any chance I can get. So naturally, when the opportunity came that offered me to climb my first mountain in 2015, I took the chance and said yes. It was one of the most amazing and memorable “yes” I made.

I wasn’t prepared for it. I was not specifically training to navigate rigorous and steep terrain, and who knows whatever challenges there are in climbing a mountain. So when dawn came that we had to start the climb, I was mentally telling myself “You can do this!”

To tell you that it was not difficult would be an outright and preposterous lie. It was extremely challenging. I felt the sun burning my exposed skin and face after the initial euphoria of being outside finally set in. I felt pain in my knees for climbing, and not trying to fall, steep rocks and massive boulders. My shoes got wet and feet cold when we had to submerge in a shallow lake that we had to pass through. As I walked through trees, huge boulders and bodies of water, I thought, this is exceptionally liberating. I exposed myself to the beauty and wonder of nature that I would not otherwise known if I had said no to the trip.

For some people, physical and outdoors activities such as mountain climbing are not interesting. They don’t like to carry heavy backpacks, get burnt in the sun or exert physical effort. The opposite applies to me. I find it extremely invigorating. Feeling the warmth of the sun in my skin goes through beyond, it is like warming the entirety of my being. Feeling the aching muscles of my knees and legs keeps me in touch and in unity of my physical body. Feeling the ache of my back for carrying climbing equipment made me realized that travelling or traversing through life empty handed can mean your survival. I was able to get to know myself further, better during my first climb.

Aside from focusing on my self and my being, I get to appreciate the wonderful scenario around me. We have been working so hard, living life in such a fast phased way that we forget to pause, take in the scenario and rest. In a world that haste is the norm, slowing down and appreciating nature’s offering is rare and yet extremely essential. Ask yourself, when was the last time you appreciated the sounds of the river, the falling leaves or the cool breeze? Not in a long time, I think.

Climbing my very first mountain was remarkable because not only I conquered a majestic creation of nature, in a way, it is safe to say, I also conquered my self. With that, I was never the same again.

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